Last week we addressed building your characters from your world’s situation/conflict, the differences in situation and conflict, and how to decide on the conflict from your world. This week we’ll be doing a closeout of the World-Building posts for now, as they’ve drifted into character creation. This may be a longer post, as we address the highlights of the PMESII-PT model.
World-Building with PMESII-PT
PMESII-PT is a military acronym for assessing AOs or Areas of Operations. By using PMESII-PT to assess the area, a commander and their team can make better choices whether they defend the city, attack, or cordon. I saw this past knowledge as an opportunity to develop a detailed approach to World-Building. PMESII-PT stands for Political, Military, Economic, Social, Information, Infrastructure, Physical Environment, and Time. And then we added a couple more posts that eventually drifted into character construction. That’s a lot, so we’ll break it down with links to each post, so if you missed any or joined late you can return to the beginning.
The Political element addresses not only the political structure and governmental institutions but also the non-recognized groups. There are a lot of fantastic novels focusing heavily on political groups, or governmental run societies like 1984, The Hunger Games, and A Song of Ice and Fire series. But often we forget about the non-recognized groups within those stories. For A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, you find the “Brotherhood Without Banners” a band working against anything Lanister related. The Hunger Games builds its resistance, the “Second Rebellion” as the series develops, and draws its protagonists in. 1984 has its underground resistance known as the “Brotherhood.” Click here to read more and start your journey of World-Building with PMESII-PT.
While the military element is apparent in, well, military fiction, there is a lot to be said for it to build your world. When you envision your world’s military, what do you see? Do you see troops garbed in chain mail, jerkins, and helms? Then you’re probably working in a world that hasn’t had an industrial or technological revolution. Maybe your soldiers wear nanotech armor with plasma rifles. Your world is then well past its technological revolution, so what would that look like? These questions can also lead you to assess your military’s capacities of war. Read more on the Military Variable post for more information.
Economic systems are amazing because they can vary widely. You have your standards for production, distribution, and consumption of resources, but when you work with fantasy storylines, it can expand beyond the normal. The Misborn series is a great example of a diversified economy using the metals of the story to build the world and its economy. Read more here for a deeper dive into the economic element.
As we know in this crazy world, social interaction builds and destroys worlds. Having the connectivity we have today completely changes how we interact. Social systems develop the core of your world, so if you already have one in mind, you can use this article to think about layering your society.
From carrier pigeons to instant messaging, and video calls, transferring information changes what type of world you’re creating. The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan are great examples of how information slowed down can change the course of actions and inaction. Then turn to Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey to see the opposite of information spread across space simultaneously. Both instances create internal and external conflicts for all characters involved. Read more on the information variable here.
Infrastructure addresses the facilities, services, and installations required for a functioning society. This ties in some of the previous sections, but focuses a lot more on things like electricity, transport, irrigation, etc. One great example of infrastructure is The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson. The world depends on its violent storms for power, of various forms, and must build infrastructure to withstand the winds and rain. Read about low level and high-level infrastructures here. Note: This article is at the bottom of the Newsletter.
Map building. From the Misty Mountains to the Straits of Messina, the physical environment shapes the world and your story. The physical environment may have already begun its formation in earlier sections, such as Infrastructure, but this is your time to have fun with it. And a reminder, you don’t have to be a master artist. Draw what you need to know for your story. Learn more about the Physical Environment element here.
The one commodity that every world has, but it affects each world differently. Your world may have varying day lengths like our own that follow a pattern, or maybe there’s something more set. Things like how your world tracks time, how long the inhabitants live in light or darkness, or how your world moves through time. Time is the ultimate variable because even if the inhabitants of your world die, it will go on. Dive into the Time article here to learn more.
Animals/Predators and Prey
Sometimes when we develop animals, we find ourselves mis-creating predators and prey. The predator isn’t always in attack mode, just as the prey isn’t always running away. Read more on ecosystems of predators and prey and how to balance them here.
From beets to trees, the plants growing in your world affects its shape, capability, and survivability. A great example of how plants impact human survival is the Bobiverse series by Dennis E. Taylor. Develop some ideas on the vegetation of your world with this article.
Are you an Outliner or Explorer? What do you need to prepare before you delve into World-building? Find some answers to those questions here.
Building from the World-Out
Do you already have the world in your mind and just need to create the rest? Read this article to learn more about my approach to World-Building from the world-out.
Thank you, everyone, for your continued support of Myers Fiction. Whether you’re just here for the writing tips, the serial fiction, or both. I hope this study of World-Building has benefited you as much as me. I believe these posts will give any writer a good start to developing their worlds, but I also recognize that my days of learning this process are nowhere near their end. There may be more posts about World-Building in the future, but it’s time to change gears and fill your world. I already started with some approaches in my last three World-Building posts, so I hope you find the next series on character just as valuable.
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